22 years after Billy Joel, another song proves yet again that history is always easier to ingest when it comes with a catchy tune.
|Off into history.|
|Before and after next to Bukit Timah Station. This is one of |
several short stretches of track that might be retained for
|Piles of rails and concrete ties at Bukit Timah station |
|The bridge over Dunearn Road makes a great a photo shoot|
for wannabe Harjuku Girls.
|Tanjong Pagar, July 2009|
It is 8 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, time for the shift change at Genpact, a descendant of G.E. and one of Gurgaon’s biggest outsourcing companies. Two long rows of white sport utility vehicles, vans and cars are waiting in the parking lot, yellow emergency lights flickering in the early darkness, as employees trickle out of call centers for their ride home. These contracted vehicles represent Genpact’s private fleet, a necessity given the absence of a public transportation system in Gurgaon.
From computerized control rooms, Genpact employees manage 350 private drivers, who travel roughly 60,000 miles every day transporting 10,000 employees. Employees book daily online reservations and receive e-mail or text message “tickets” for their assigned car. In the parking lot, a large L.E.D. screen is posted with rolling lists of cars and their assigned passengers.
And the cars are only the beginning. Faced with regular power failures, Genpact has backup diesel generators capable of producing enough electricity to run the complex for five days (or enough electricity for about 2,000 Indian homes). It has a sewage treatment plant and a post office, which uses only private couriers, since the local postal service is understaffed and unreliable. It has a medical clinic, with a private ambulance, and more than 200 private security guards and five vehicles patrolling the region. It has A.T.M.’s, a cellphone kiosk, a cafeteria and a gym.
“It is a fully finished small city,” said Naveen Puri, a Genpact administrator.Self-sufficient buildings are obviously nothing new to anyone who has spent time in the developing world, or even in rural parts of the highly developed. What sets Gurgaon and its Indian cousins apart is their sheer scale. It is hard to think of anywhere else in the world where entire cities are being built by the corporate sector. Please do yourself a favor and read the whole article, it has got a lot of good information in it.
India is said to grow at night while its government sleeps. The quip, beloved of Indian businessmen, is often invoked to rubbish a corrupt and incompetent state and to praise a supposedly heroic entrepreneurial class. But there is something wrong with this picture. In many sectors, Indian entrepreneurs make money not in spite of government interference, but precisely through colluding with a state that provides the land, licences and rent-seeking opportunities on which they thrive.
|The Thai/Laos border from the Thai side.|
|Old colonial era building along the main street in Luang Prabang. |
The entire old town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage
Site in order to protect the historic buildings and the result is
something that every other historic town in Southeast Asia
should try to emulate.
|Communist countries always have the best markets.|
|Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang. One of the most historic |
and beautiful temples in Southeast Asia.
|A typical Laos inter-city bus station. Nice, clean,|
convenient, safe, etc.
|A typical site at the Plain of Jars. Hundreds of huge stone jars, |
approximately 2000 years old. No one knows exactly who built
them or why.
|Hwa Phra Kaew. It housed the Emerald Budda from 1564 until|
1779 when a Thai army sacked Vientiane and took it to Bangkok,
where it still sits. Apparently many Laotians have still not
gotten over this.
|Patuxai, a huge concrete edifice supposedly made by the old|
royal government with cement that the the Americans had
provided for a new airport runway. Apparently it is based on
some other gate in Paris or somewhere.
|There is a noodle shop in the center of the arch. Awesome.|
|And a T-Shirt stand halfway up the stairs. Super awesome.|
|The authorities are building a huge park/flood barrier along the |
Mekong. Its actually pretty nice, lots of young Laotians and
families come out to walk along the river on weekends.
|The mighty Mekong, Thailand on the right side. The first big |
hotel in town is on the left.
|The main parade ground. I decided to walk all the way across it|
in the afternoon sun, big mistake. The National Assembly
building is on the right.
|Vientiane's first big mall, under construction. Things will|
never be the same?